“Wending” and other Poems by Allis Hamilton

Mrs. Piper

after Pied Piper of Hamelin
 
He came home with that wooden whistle
one blustery winter’s day.
 
Said he found it on the snow
at the crossroads of Hamelin and Coppenbrügge.
 
It was just lying there he said.
He learned to play it fast enough,
 
one could well say he was a natural.
But I got rather fed up with his playing here in the cave.
 
It bounced off the stonewalls and I could get no work done,
so I sent him out.
 
The first time my husband returned after a day out
with that whistle, it was flies that followed him.
 
All a-buzz in swarms like swallows on a summer’s eve.
Next it was the worms slithering along behind him
 
like one enormous python.
He used them to catch us plenty of fish.
 
When he brought home the rats,
that was quite something.
 
I smoked the meat from most of them;
we had a winter’s worth of food.
 
And I tanned their skins of course;
they made for wonderful shoe warmers.
 
But when he brought home all of those children,
that was something else altogether.
 
Published in The Australian Poetry Journal 2015 Issue 5 No. 1,
Edited by Michael Sharkey
 

The Fottie

 
Often we saw her walking the hushed hills,
making her way among sheep-worn heather.
Her feet shod in the skin of lambs – lambs
 
whose dead eyes knew the pecking beak of crow.
Always she was wrapped in her tan and green shawl,
her hair as wild as night.
 
She collected clutches of wool caught in clumps of hawthorn,
tangled in clusters of heather, blown by winds’ fierce breath
onto thistle-thorn. Sometimes digging roots with a broken antler
 
on the burn’s steep brae where the roe deer spar.
She gathered lichen long grown on granite rocks; picked
yellow flowers off gorse with small careful fingers,
 
placing them like stolen kisses into her apron pocket.
We villagers wondered what she did with her collection,
she, as shy as fox, as quiet as grass.
 
After we found her beautiful body beaten blue
by the bashing burn – washed up on the banks
from a tremendous storm – we discovered her craft.
 
She had woven exquisite colourful, detailed tapestries
that covered the walls of her crumbling croft.
There it all was, the stories of our lives as seen from her eyes:
 
Missus Brodie and her black-eyed triplets, husband long dead
at the horns of a boar; Johnny the knocker with his four-fingered
hand standing by the blacksmith fire; laird Edward McIntosh
 
with his mistress Missus MacLeish laying deep in the shade
of a willow grove; Claire and Norma trading goats’ milk
in sloshing metal pails, sometimes for more than money;
 
Albert and Dave climbing down a tall Scots pine,
crows’ eggs in their mouths running, late for school;
and there was myself, my brown eyes wide, looking
longingly towards her.
 
Fottie is a female wool-gatherer.
 
Published in Painted Words 2015, a BRIT TAFE Anthology,
Edited by Professional Writing and Editing Students
 

Wending

 
On a grey rainy day, a cuckoo bird comes to a tree at my window.
At irregular intervals it hammers among fat drops falling on the flat tin roof.
 
Uncurling the sleeping cat from my lap, I walk out into the misty sky to try and find
the feathered form. Given a choice I would live forever in a day like this: wet, grey,
 
visited by birds singing their intricate songs. I would read stories of bicycle rides
and embroider the thoughts of a honey bee. It takes me days to wash off
 
the nagging world, rinsing and rinsing until finally I find my own skin.
Though I just can’t seem to find that bird that is hammering.
 
Published in Plumwood Mountain, Volume 3, Number 1,
Edited by Tricia Dearborn
 

White-necked (Pacific) Heron,

Ardea pacifica
 
Still
as stone you stand
on long leather legs
in water older than stars
 
As stone you stand
keeping patience
in water older than stars
lapping the lips of the lagoon
 
Keeping patience
your incremental movements
lap the lips of the lagoon
more monk than bird
 
Your incremental movements
clues to the source of stillness
more monk than bird
head bowed collecting prey
 
Clues to the source of stillness
serpent-necked fisherman
head bowed collecting prey
using shadow as ally
 
Serpent-necked fisherman
your charcoal cape enshrouds
using shadow as ally
a trick the sunshine taught
 
Your charcoal cape enshrouds
scrying water’s soft underbelly
a trick the sunshine taught
from the sky’s open lid
 
Scrying water’s soft underbelly
beak poised as a precise knife
under the sky’s open lid
waiting
 
On long leather legs
still
 
Published as part of the Bimblebox 153 Birds, An Australian touring exhibition
Compiled by Jill Sampson
 

Wince

 
Amanda eats ants
underneath the cherry tree,
placing the acrid
green biters
on her wet
flinching tongue
 
Published in The Caterpillar Issue 12 Spring 2016
Edited by Will Govan
 
“Wending” and other poems is © Allis Hamilton

Allis Hamilton in LightAllis Hamilton lives in a small, hand-built shack powered by the sun, in regional Australia where she scampers barefoot over rocks. She creates poetry, art, and music. She was an acrobat and classical musician until a brain haemorrhage put a stop to that. Allis is a co-convener of PoetiCas, her town’s poetry readings. Some of her poems live in Australian Poetry Journal, The Caterpillar, Plumwood Mountain, among other places.

The Story Telling Tent